Tuesday, July 29 2014
Woke up in the middle of a bizarre dream, and made the mistake of grabbing my phone to see if pairings were up. Shouldn't have done that. No way I am getting back to sleep now - my brain is off and running. At least there is no chance of me oversleeping and making JM late for the round (the Seinfeld episode where Elaine is dating the wake up call guy is in my head - was just on the other day).
JM is paired against Joshua Sheng from CA (2349) in the last round on board 1. JM will be playing the black pieces. This is by far the most accomplished player in the tournament. Highest rated player by 50+ points, tons of national tournament experience - this kid is a monster (I mean that in a very positive way - Joshua is a fantastic player). It is only fitting that the tournament will come down to the top two rated players on board 1, playing one game for all the marbles. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best.
Here are the scenarios:
1) If JM wins, he will be at the minimum Barber Co-Champion, no matter what happens in any other games. This tournament recognizes every player that ties for first as co-champion (some tournaments use tiebreakers and have only 1 champion). The Barber tournament will use tiebreakers to determine prize money, but all first place finishers are co-champions.
2) If JM wins and board 2 (Advait Patel vs. David Brodsky) ends in a draw, JM is clear first place and sole champion. If board 2 ends in a win by either player, JM will be co-champion with that player.
3) If JM draws he could still be co-champion ONLY if board 2 ends in a draw. In this scenario there would probably be multiple co-champions, since there are a lot of players at 3.5 points that could become co-champions with a win in final round.
4) If JM loses he is definitely out of the running.
This is going to be an intense day. I remember the pressure of the final days of the World Youth Championship in Brazil in 2011 and the SuperNationals in Nashville in 2013. JM was in contention in both of those tournaments but couldn't pull out a win on the last day to bring it home. I know he is thinking about that today - hopefully he can get his nerves under control, play his best game today and let the chips fall where they may. You don't get too many chances to win a national or world championship - this is the third time JM has put himself into contention. For JM, he definitely adheres to the famous Pat Riley comment, "There is winning, and there is misery." By around 2:00 PM today, there will be extreme elation or incredible dejection for JM - not going to be any middle ground.
JM wakes up in a nasty, foul mood. Definitely the nerves hitting him right away. Going to be fun navigating through the next 2 hours!
Back in hotel room after breakfast downstairs. Breakfast was lighthearted as usual - JM still wound up, but some laughs at breakfast. Now back in the room - JM preparing on laptop. Very quiet - the calm before the storm.
Round 6 is underway. Very quiet walk to the playing hall. JM was on laptop until the moment we walked out of the hotel room. Normally we have funny banter on the way to the playing hall, but not today. JM is deep in thought and I am not going to do anything to distract him. Opponent showed up a minute or so after round started, they shook hands and now the endless wait begins......what time do the bars open in Orlando? For those who are wondering, I don't normally go to the bar every day - just during chess tournaments!
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